What a walk! I was incredibly proud and privileged to be part of Slutwalk Aotearoa Wellington 2011.
TW for rape discussion.
There was no way I was going to miss that. I feel almost overwhelmed by the growing movement, the fundamental idea that rape or any kind of assault is never – EVER – the fault of the victim. What this does for me is crystallise thoughts I had ever since I saw a “Public Service” advertisement many years ago saying that young women should make sure they stick together for safety. I remember thinking at the time: What the FUCK are you saying? They’re fucking gazelles??”. But back then, I felt I didn’t have a voice.
More recently we see the ALAC “Lisa” ads. Well fuck you too, ALAC. Encourage responsible drinking by all means, but DON’T use this as a vehicle.
There have been so many people saying shit like “Oh of course there is no excuse for rape, but ….” What these fucking arseholes don’t realise is that the moment you put your big “but” in there, you are negating what you said before. Bob fucking McCroskrie (apologies to Amanda Palmer) – I am looking at you. And I want to throw up.
I was just so honoured to hear the speeches of those who have been through such hell. I was honoured reading some of the tweets saying explaining how they were wearing their pyjamas because that’s what they were wearing when they were raped. I was honoured to share the tears of so many in the crowd. And the bravery of those who shared their stories of abuse was awesome. And if these stories can bring me, a white male who has never been (as far as I know¹) raped or abused, to tears, I can only barely imagine the trauma these bring to those who have been through such horrors.
And even I, an amazingly privileged person, get tired of all the brainless comments. (The following links aren’t direct to the comments, but to articles I found interesting and had the comments made in response).
- The locking your car argument (that 1: says women are possessions and 2: says that leaving your car unlocked is an invitation to theft).
- The buts – “There is never an excuse for rape but….” “I am not sexist, but…” “I don’t know fucking shit about language, but….”
- The “personal responsibility” responses.
- The “but it is all about trying to end crime” responses (with regard to the “don’t be a slut” advice).
Unfortunately, I stumbled across a blog that started with “Large Crowd of Unattractive Women”. Just don’t even try.
One of the most important messages for me that came out of this march is this:
“This is not going to fix all our problems. This will not change the focus of behaviour overnight. This will not stop rapists from raping. But it WILL be a start. It will be the first wave of a social change, a refocusing. It will spark discussion and raise awareness. It will cause people to question their attitudes towards others – towards women, towards men, towards trans* people.”
And to be honest, at this stage, that is all we can ask. As we change the views of a few people, they will then go on to change the views of others.
What was the worst thing about Slutwalk? That despite the pleas to the mainstream media that they do not focus on the “scantily clad” bodies or the specific words used, but on the message that rapists rape, most of them abjectly failed to do so.
So thank you, Slutwalk Aotearoa. Thank you to the organisers, the participants, the speakers. You have given me hope that we can change society. We can make a significant difference in the world. Thank you for sharing your stories, for educating us, and for returning a voice to many who may not have felt as though they had one.
I know you weren’t doing it for us, but thank you anyway – because whether you meant to or not, you have touched many people’s lives.
And of course we’ve only just begun. (Think of this as being the relationship each of us has with the movement).
¹I have sometimes wondered about this. There is a history of sexual abuse in my extended family, and I have always felt an affinity with abuse victims. So I have never ruled out the possibility that there may be things in my past that I have not allowed myself to remember.